Ottawa County Parks Foundation – Janaury 2021 Newsletter
Experiencing the joys of nature
by Anita Yoder
I have always been a nature-lover. Perhaps it came from growing up on a small farm, with few playmates other than my dog, barn cats, and the chickens I used to invite into my corn crib playhouse. I would spend hours playing in the creek, making boats out of milkweed pods that held tiny families made from seeds or pebbles and watch them as they “navigated” their way down the creek.
I joined the Foundation Board in March of 2020 and was able to
participate in one in-person meeting before Covid-19 hit and everything closed. The Joy of Nature Woven into Everyone’s Lives is the vision for our Ottawa County Parks Foundation which celebrated its 5-year anniversary this past summer. Hmm… JOY… in 2020?? I do not think it was listed in Merriam-Websters top 11 words of the year.
We can all agree that 2020 was a strange year that left us all scrambling to figure out how to adapt. With the pandemic, I think the “joy of nature” held an even greater significance this past year. For all the places we could not go, the parks were still open to us. And what I saw as I visited various Ottawa County parks this last year was truly the joy people were finding as they
explored being in nature. On social media, I noticed families posting pictures of a new park they were visiting and how amazed, grateful, and almost surprised they were to have found such a wonderful spot.
I have long believed in the need for parks and open spaces accessible to all, but I think 2020 made it crystal clear how important it really is for our survival. It is now well-documented that having parks and open spaces that are easily accessible within our communities is critical to our mental and physical health.
During these unusual times, I am especially grateful for our Ottawa County Parks and the vision and work of the Foundation which directly funds and supports the parks and their programs.
As we begin 2021, I wish you all, the joy of nature woven into your lives.
Foundation Board welcomes new member
The Ottawa County Parks Foundation welcomes Dr. Deb Sturtevant to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Deb is currently a Professor of Sociology and Social Work at Hope College and is planning to retire at the end of this academic year. In retirement Deb’s seeking to be healthier, to slow down and to take time to appreciate nature. Her degrees are a BA Hope College, MSW from Western Michigan University, and PhD from Michigan State University.
Deb has a particular fondness for Eastmanville Farm. Her first publication was an article about the Ottawa County Poor Farm for Michigan History Magazine. A few years ago, Eastmanville Farm, formerly known as the Ottawa County Poor Farm and Community Haven, celebrated its 150th anniversary where she had the opportunity to play the role of teacher and resident Hattie Babcock. For Deb, a visit to Eastmanville Farm is a walk back in time and a place for reflection in a county park that honors the memory of the people who “came to grief” sought shelter, worked, and were laid to rest on the property.
Deb wanted to serve on the Ottawa County Park’s Foundation Board because of its mission to serve as a bridge to nature and to contribute to its’ vision that everyone enjoy nature. Her goal is to help promote participation through educational programming and by promoting access for everyone.
Anita Yoder is a OCPF Board member, chair of the Communications Committee and a member of the Parks Sustainers Club.
The Park Sustainers Club is a unique group of donors whose monthly investment allows us to complete special projects that can’t be accomplished within the County Parks’ budget, like building trail connections, adding land, and upgrading facilities. You can support the parks with as little as $5/month.